Vested Interest Leverages Dark Fiber to Boost Small Businesses

On the South end of Downtown South Bend, a century-old facility is taking shape as a home for small businesses in need of larger space. At ‘Vested Interest’, local entrepreneurs are finding a physical and digital structure necessary for growth — a structure intentionally built by the facility’s forerunner.

Long before the inception of this project, David Ziker was building Ziker Cleaners, his family dry-cleaning business, using emerging internet technology:

As our business started leveraging technology more, we had a bigger and bigger demand for internet bandwidth. As we went from internal servers to cloud based servers about 8 or 10 years ago, we explored lots of different avenues for bandwidth and more reliable internet service. Our IT company brought the Metronet Zing idea to us ...

Ziker Cleaners leveraged this new, scalable fiber connection to implement new efficiencies including a cloud point of sale system, barcoded garments for automatic sortation, and real-time updates for customers of the industrial uniform division.

“And then we created Vested Interest…”

In May of 2017, after the cleaning business had moved to a new facility, David began to pursue a multi-tenant vision for the 70,000 square foot building. While abundant space was the immediate attraction for potential tenants, David knew that the building’s fiber connection would be a valuable hook:

As we were looking for potential tenants to occupy the space, the Metronet became a real benefit that helped us secure some of the tenants we have now .. and we can scale the bandwidth, which is really nice. We have Public Access TV, for instance, if they want to stream live TV they need huge bandwidth.

Over the last 9 months Vested Interest has leveraged this foundation to build out a diverse crew of tenants including:

  • INVANTI, a startup generator activating entrepreneurial talent to solve important problems.
  • Merriman’s Piano, a complete piano service including restoration, tuning and repair.
Members of the Merriman Family among their stock of 300+ pianos set to be restored and sold locally.
  • West.SB, a digital magazine documenting ‘life in South Bend, a Rust Belt city on the move.’
  • LimeBike, a tech mobility company revolutionizing bike-sharing around the world.
  • Sew Loved, a women’s center teaching sewing and quilting classes to under-served teen girls & women

Of course internet connectivity holds different value for each of these tenants. LimeBike uses the internet to host their GPS monitoring system, allowing users to find bikes quickly on their mobile app. West.SB uploads massive video files to YouTube, and INVANTI is frequently communicating with people around the country.

More data. More speed. More possibilities. ⚡️

David first tapped into Metronet Zing to enable new innovations in Ziker Cleaners’ operation. The building’s new vision comes with new needs: scalability for a rapidly growing tenant roster, speed for businesses reliant on technology, and reliability for young businesses with little margin for error.

Check out Vested Interest to see how this crew of emerging businesses on Sample Street is building a new era of ‘Made in South Bend.’

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